Parties who come to court about child custody and visitation face decisions about parenting plans for their children, such as where the children will spend their time and who will make decisions about their health and education. If the parents have not reached an agreement on a parenting plan, the court will refer them to mediation with family court services to try to work out a plan. Family court services helps parties resolve disagreements about the care of their children. In some places, the professional will provide a recommendation to the court. They will be called a "child custody recommending counselor." The professional meets with both parents. If a parent is concerned about meeting with the other parent, or there is a history of domestic violence or a restraining order involving the other party, the parent may ask to meet with the proessional without the other party present. The parent may also have a support person attend as long as that person does not speak for the parent. Rules 5.215 of the Court Rules of Court provides more information on how family court services handles these cases. Mediators, court staff, and judicial officers will have information available on the local court’s procedures for handling cases involving domestic violence in family court services.
The AOC provides funding to support the use of interpreters in proceedings where domestic violence or elder abuse protective orders have been issued or are being sought and in cases filed under the Family Code generally where one party does not sufficiently understand English.
Some families experiencing domestic violence will become involved with the juvenile court. If the county child protective services (CPS) agency investigates allegations and a court determines that a child is at risk of harm in the home, the court may make the child a dependent of the court. For more information about juvenile dependency court, click here. If a child breaks the law or is beyond parental control, the county probation office may investigate and the child may be involved with juvenile delinquency court. For more information on juvenile delinquency court, click here. For detailed information regarding juvenile courts, click here.